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Individual lawyers donated three times more money to Sen. Robert Menendez than to Republican challenger Thomas Kean Jr., and much of that money came from out-of-staters trying to affect an election crucial to the Democrats’ hope of winning a Senate majority. Menendez’s $1 million in lawyer donations included $334,000 from outside New Jersey, compared with $88,000 of Kean’s $315,000 total lawyer money, according to Federal Election Commission donor lists as of Oct. 18. The sums do not include lawyer contributions through political action committees. The Democrat’s big lead in lawyer donations appears to reflect the magnetic attraction of incumbents to donors at large firms, particularly in Washington, that represent corporate America. For example, lawyers at national firm Greenberg Traurig, which gives heavily to Republicans too, donated $34,000 to Menendez, helping him to a ranking of seventh place on the list of Senate candidates receiving money from lawyers and lobbyists this year. Menendez also appears to have picked up a substantial number of donations from small-firm lawyers out of state who would like to see the Democrats recapture the Senate. An example: Seven small-firm lawyers from Corpus Christi, Texas, donated a total of $20,700 to Menendez, according to the FEC lists. One of the contributors, David Bright of the Watts firm in Corpus Christi, says he doesn’t know much about Menendez, but donated $2,000 partly because of national issues, partly because a heavy contributor to Democratic causes, Texas businessman Mauricio Celis, asked him. The Association of Trial Lawyers of America lists Menendez as a candidate worthy of support, and a spot check of donations from small-firm lawyers around the country shows that many of his contributors are personal injury lawyers. Republicans have not elected a U.S. senator in New Jersey since 1972, and the Democrats hold a 3-2 voter registration margin, but Kean’s attacks on Menendez’s ethics have taken their toll and the race is too close to call, the latest polls suggest. Kean has his share of lawyer-donors, too, but their contributions represent 6 percent of his total, compared with Menendez’s 12 percent. Kean’s largest bloc of donations came from employees and executives of the national accounting firm Rothstein Cass & Co., which has an office in Roseland, and individuals at Newark’s IDT Corp. Lawyers at the national firm of Blank, Rome, Comisky & McCauley headed Kean’s lawyer list with $21,600, followed by two New Jersey firms, Cole Schotz, Meisel, Forman & Leonard in Hackensack and Wolff & Samson in West Orange. He also benefited from the largesse of well-known former Republican office-holders and statewide candidates. Former Republican Senate candidate Mary Mochary gave $2,000. Former New York Sen. Alphonse D’Amato gave $1,500, former Gov. Donald DiFrancesco gave $1,000 and former Rep. James Courter gave $4,200. The FEC lists suggest there’s a flaw in the accepted wisdom that Republicans benefit from donations from a few large donors, while Democrats get less from a larger pool. At least when it comes to lawyers. The average lawyer-donor to Kean’s campaign gave $1,062, while the average attorney in Menendez’s camp gave $1,242. On the other hand, it’s also possible that hordes of Democratic lawyers are giving small amounts that don’t show up on FEC lists. The lists don’t include donations of less than $200. The law limits individual contributions to $2,100 per candidate per election, including primaries. Menendez’s largest bloc of lawyer-donors is at Lowenstein Sandler in Roseland. They gave $46,000 in the 2005-2006 election cycle, according to FEC reports, and $207,000 over Menendez’s career, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported on Thursday. Managing partner Michael Rodburg says the firm does not track its lawyers’ contributions and he says the firm, while heavily Democratic, also includes Republicans. According to the FEC list, however, only one lawyer at Lowenstein Sandler, Kenneth Rosen, donated to Kean. He gave $1,000, but he also gave $2,000 to Menendez. Rodburg says the firm has had a good relationship with Menendez and that the Democrat speaks to the firm a couple of times a year about developments in Washington. Rodburg says Zulima Farber has been a longtime Menendez supporter and has urged partners to support him financially. “I think people responded more to her than to Menendez,” Rodburg says of the donations. Finally, a large number of people in the firm, particularly the aging baby boomers, “just happen to be liberal Democrats,” Rodburg says. Menendez also had widespread support among lawyers at the largest firm in his home county, Waters McPherson McNeill. Donations to Menendez among well-known Democratic figures included $1,500 from former Rep. William Hughes and $1,000 each from former FBI Director Louis Freeh, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and former state Attorney General Robert Del Tufo. Lawyers at Teaneck’s DeCotiis, FitzPatrick, Cole & Wisler also were high on Menendez’s lawyer list. Partner Michael Cole, who was chief counsel to Gov. Thomas Kean, the Republican candidate’s father, gave $3,100 to Menendez and $2,000 to Kean. Among others who gave to both candidates was public finance lawyer Christopher Walrath of Trenton’s Gluck Walrath, who gave $2,000 to Kean and $2,100 to Menendez, according to the list. James Burns of Livingston’s Genova Burns & Vernoia, whose partner Angelo Genova is the longtime counsel to the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, gave $4,200 to Menendez and $500 to Kean. Finally, though Donald Trump is not a lawyer, he does hire a lot of them, so for what it’s worth he gave $1,000 to both candidates. While the donations listed in this article are based on FEC records, airtight accuracy in reporting lawyer contributions is impossible. The FEC requires a listing of each donor’s occupation and employer, but that information is missing from about 10 percent of the entries on file. To get the sums, the Law Journal totaled donations by lawyers who identified themselves and their employers. Then, all names without identification were cross-checked with the New Jersey Lawyers Diary and Manual or the online Martindale-Hubbell Lawyer Locator – a process that produced more lawyers for the list, but, obviously, not all of them.

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